Easy Ways To Slim Down Holiday Recipes

Posted Fri, 12/11/2009 - 9:06pm by Camilla Cheung

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As the holidays approach, most of us are girding our loins and loosening our belts in anticipation for the requisite feasts of fat things that await us. After all, our instant-gratification culture has instilled in our minds the thoughts to indulge now and resolve to lose weight later (resulting in the number one New Year’s Resolution in America — to lose holiday weight gain). But what are some ways we can reduce the damage and take control of how fattening our holiday foods really are?

Slimming Down Fattening Recipes

In this season of celebrating abundance and good cheer, many holiday recipes are full of sugar, cream, butter and fat. But with a few well-placed substitutions or techniques, you can reduce the amount of fat, sugar and cholesterol in each serving of these traditional dishes, without using artificial fats or sweeteners.

Pies: Piecrusts need a surprising amount of butter to get that signature flakiness — about one cup for a double-crust pie! Drastically reduce the amount of butter your family consumes by serving single-crust pies or tarts instead of double crust ones, and consider replacing the butter pastry crust with an olive oil crust (though there’s no denying it won’t be as flaky). Try serving a fruit tart instead of a cream or caramel pie and cut down on the sugar — an apple pie made with good apples just needs a dash of sugar and spice to taste delicious.

Heavy Cream: Replace the thick creaminess of heavy cream with whole milk, or a quick béchamel sauce (a white sauce made by cooking butter and an equal amount of flour, then adding warm milk and cooking until it thickens). Béchamel sauce can be used in gratins, casseroles, and many savory dishes that call for cream, such as creamed spinach or creamed pearl onions. For desserts, skip the whipped cream, or at least sweeten it just slightly.

Sweet Potatoes: Instead of making sugary-sweet sweet potato casseroles, or dousing sweet potatoes in sugar for candied sweet potatoes, try roasting them with salt, herbs and a dribble of heart-healthy olive oil for a delicious savory alternative. The same can go for roasted squash.

Cakes: Replace some or even all of the oil and butter in holiday cakes with unsweetened applesauce — it keeps the cake moist without all the fat. Alternatively, use heart-friendly canola oil or a neutral flavored olive oil. Substituting some of the white flour for whole-wheat flour also ups the health quotient. Many cake recipes use more sugar than is really needed; reducing the sugar by ¼ cup or more is an easy way to make cakes healthier, and sometimes taste better too.

De-Fat the Gravy: Skim the fat off pan drippings when making gravy, and if using homemade stock, make sure you skim the fat off the stock after it has cooled (or use low-fat store bought stock). You can also baste the turkey using low-fat stock instead of fatty pan drippings.

More Vegetables: Adding a variety of vegetable side dishes will help your family fill up on healthier food instead of carb and fat-heavy turkey and stuffing. Try substituting a mushroom/wild-rice stuffing for your normal stuffing for a flavorful nutritional boost, or mashing some parsnips or squash into your traditional mashed potatoes.

Although these suggestions won’t make your holiday recipes entirely healthy and low fat, they will help you to reduce the amount of nutritional damage they will cause. After all, it’s the holidays. You have to indulge a little.

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